Social Media Censorship: Why Was This Word Banned In China?

Chinese social media users weren't able to share many recipes for soup or french fries last year, as the term "iodized salt" was banned in an attempt to quell rumors that the compound can prevent radiation poisoning, a feared ailment after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

This was discovered during a Carnegie Mellon University study that analyzed the deleted messages on Weibo, China's largest microblogging site.

According to the study, 212,583 out of more than 1.3 million checked messages had been deleted, or more than 16 percent. Messages containing certain phrases, like "Tibet," "brainwash" and well-known dissident "Ai Weiwei," were more likely to be flagged by the Chinese government.

In addition to the strict moderation on their activities, the Washington Post blog writes that Weibo users will soon be required to register with their actual names, decreasing anonymity and likely forcing bloggers to be cautious about the messages they share.

"China is notorious for its internet censorship, and government censors regularly delete posts on blogs and social media. Twitter and Facebook are completely disabled," writes However, "Chinese citizens evade the censors with clever methods. They often use slang or homophones instead of directly addressing something. Also, they use Romanized letters (like English), which are not flagged by the search engines. Most clever of all, they sometimes use images of text instead of text itself."